EDUCATION
1:00 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Memphis Rejects Sales Tax Hike for Pre-K Ed

In unexpected numbers, voters derail an initiative to bring universal Pre-K classes to Memphis.


A citywide referendum to bring universal pre-kindergarten classes to Memphis children failed roundly at the ballot box on Thursday. Of the 29,295 votes cast, 60 percent said no to the proposed five percent increase in sales taxes that would have funded the program.

“Under no circumstances do people want to pay more taxes,” lamented Memphis City Council member and Pre-K supporter Jim Strickland, who said he was surprised by the outcome.

The City Council unanimously backed the referendum. So did the NAACP, and the Greater Memphis Chamber. As touted by supporters, Pre-K’s long-term social benefits included crime reduction and economic growth.

But opponents stuck to their message that raising taxes – even 25 cents on a $50 purchase – would hurt poor people the most.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Total votes cast: 29,295

For: 11,659 votes or 39.8 %

Against: 17,636 votes or 60.20%

AKBARI WINS DISTRICT 91, FILLS DEBERRY VACANCY

A special election held to replace the late Tennessee State Representative Lois DeBerry in District 91 resulted in a landslide for 29-year-old Memphis attorney Raumesh A. Akbari. She won the district, which covers much of south Memphis, with nearly 89 percent of the vote. Representative DeBerry died in July after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

BY THE NUMBERS

Total Voters: 3,472

Raumesh A. Akbari: 3,087 votes or 88.91%

James “Jim” Tomasik: 369 votes or 10.63%

Write-in: 16 votes or 0.46%